Climate change talks from Durban to Bonn
The last Confer-ence of Parties (COP17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Durban, South Africa in December 2011 and came out with the Durban Platform of Enhanced Action (DPEA). The next round of talks under the UNFCCC is going to be held in May in Bonn, Germany, in preparation for COP18 which will be held in Doha, Qatar in December 2012.
Although not a COP, the talks in Bonn will nevertheless be important to resolve a number of key issues before COP18 in Doha. Some of these are described below.
National Adaptation Plans (NAP):
In Durban, the guidelines for National Adaptation Plans (NAP) were agreed, and now the discussion in 2012 will focus on initiating the actual process to prepare such NAPs, and the financial support to be provided both for the process and implementation of these plans. Parties and multilateral organisations were invited to submit their views on the financial support for designing of NAPs and some have done so.
It is expected that in Bonn initial discussions will be held for the preparation of a COP decision on this matter at COP18 in Doha in December. It will be important to provide finance at least for LDCs as soon as possible so that more countries can develop their NAPs in a participatory and transparent manner. The results may also provide an important input into the Durban Platform on the post-2020 agreement, for example by assessing the adaptation costs post-2020
Loss and damage
The Durban COP took an important step forward by agreeing a work programme on loss and damage. It includes a series of expert workshops. The first expert workshop of the work programme took place in Tokyo, Japan in March. It focused on the assessment of risks of loss and damage. The discussions showed that there is still a substantial need to further define what should be understood as loss and damage in the UNFCCC context. However, it also became clear that this issue has strong linkages both with adaptation and mitigation, so from loss and damage point of view driving forward both agendas is crucial. Furthermore, preparation of a technical paper as well as literature review on this aspect is being undertaken by the Secretariat.
Later in the year, as part of the work programme, regional workshops will take place on the range of approaches to address loss and damage, including impacts related to extreme weather events and slow onset events. The workshops are likely to take place in Ethiopia (June), Mexico (July) and the other two in countries from Asia and the SIDS. At COP18 a decision should be reached providing a clearer way forward, perhaps a next phase of the work programme which elaborates concrete approaches under the UNFCCC, which could include some kind of international mechanism, regional or international climate risk insurance facility. The process beyond COP18 should also address the role of loss and damage in the post-2020 agreement, building on work already done.
Adaptation Committee (AC)
The Adaptation Committee was established in Durban. Originally, it was expected that the first meeting would take place before the Bonn session, but there are still outstanding nominations from different regions, which is an area of concern. It is not yet clear whether the first meeting will take place right after the Bonn session, as it is usually organised. The nomination for Adaptation Committee is a crucial step, as it must reflect balanced and a broad range of expertise and representation. The LDC Group has unanimously nominated Dr. Sumaiya Zakeldien from Sudan as their representative on the Adaptation Committee.
In addition to the items mentioned above there are also important discussions to be held on the Nairobi Work Programme on Adaptation as well as on Least Developed Country matters.
The Durban Platform is the main outcome from Durban and Bonn will be the first time that serious discussions will be held on this issue. The main point of contention is how the Durban Platform links to the other major negotiating tracks, namely the Kyoto Protocol (KP) track and Long-Term-Cooperative-Action (LCA) track. The other issue is with regard to timings for agreeing the post-Kyoto framework. Some countries (notably the United States of America) are trying to postpone it to 2020 while many others (including the LDCs) are pushing for completion by 2015.
Bangladesh will be fielding a team of officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) and experts as it does at all UNFCCC sessions. The team is ably led by Dr. Q. K. Ahmed and they meet every day to plan their tactics and inputs. They have been playing a significant support role to the Chair of the LDC Group as well as on their own.
Two important contributions that Bangladesh has made as a major player have been on pushing the topic of loss and damage -- and carrying out some important research on this topic to present at COP18 in Doha. The other is to raise the issue of migration due to climate change impacts, which is still very much a taboo topic for many of the (mostly developed) countries in the UNFCCC process.
The Bonn talks are not expected to come out with any major decisions, but they will lay the groundwork for making those decisions at COP18 in Doha. These will in turn determine whether we will have to wait until 2020 for a new global treaty or be able to do it by 2015.